This Company Is Making Apartment Hunting More Zen-like (And Affordable).


You’re in a real estate of mind, and who has time to call brokers, then trudge around town looking at apartments that don’t look anything like what you saw on line? Well, who are you calling? 2010?

Zenly was founded by native New Yorkers who feel your pain, since they’ve been there, done that. With Zenly, you register, find an available apartment that really does exist, take a video tour, schedule a time to see it, then fill out the application online. No brokers (which means no broker fees), and you’re home free. Well, maybe not free, but you do save a lot of time and money and it costs you nothing until you sign on the dotted line. Co-founder Isaac Palka explains how Zenly is putting the real back into real estate.


Tell us about the service.

Zenly is the first online marketplace for apartment rentals in New York City. We are the only source of 100% real listings with video walkthroughs. Our platform also lets users visit an apartment on their own schedule, and apply online, without a broker, to save thousands of dollars in fees.

How is it different?

Unlike other sites that are littered with fake listings and stock images, Zenly receives its listings directly from property managers. Our team verifies each and every one with accurate photos and video walkthroughs. Finally, users can see what apartments actually look like, instead of wasting their time running around the streets with a broker.

Zenly also provides the first online platform to complete the entire rental process. With one click, users can schedule a visit to an apartment on their own, and submit an application online. By providing users with real data and a do-it-yourself platform, we’re eliminating the notion of “apartment hunting.”

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

The real estate brokerage market in the United States is estimated at $114b. Zenly is starting in the rental market in Manhattan, where over 30,000 apartments are leased annually.

What is the business model?

Zenly is free for users to browse, and free for property managers to list their apartments. We collect a 5% fee from the tenant upon lease signing, which is one third of what a broker charges. On a $3,000 apartment, for example, we save the tenant $3,600 upfront.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within 6 months?

Zenly aims to establish itself as the go-to platform for rentals in New York City. We want to use technology to introduce transparency and efficiency to the real estate market.

In the short-term, we are focused on increasing our relationships with more property management firms, and growing our team with more talented professionals.

Why are you launching in New York?

Anyone who has rented an apartment in New York City knows what a nightmare it is. As native New Yorkers, we have experienced the pain multiple times, and saw a big opportunity here. We aim to make the apartment finding process more Zen, as our company name suggests, and to provide our community with a real estate of mind.

Please share some insights that you have picked up thus far about the New York rental market.

We discovered that most listings online in fact contain stock images. Property managers and brokers do not have the time to photograph every unit, which is why most listings include recycled images. This explains why people are often frustrated that what they see in person does not match what they saw online. Zenly solves this issue by providing verified listings, with real photos and videos, to save tenants a lot of the time and headaches involved in finding an apartment.


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